What’s in a word?

“In the beginning was the Word”

At the dawn and before the dawn… was the Beginning that had no beginning. This is the intro to the Gospel according to John, a portrait of the life of Jesus.

This phrase mirrors the beginning of the epic Hebrew poetry of Genesis 1. So when we hear ‘Word,’ it’s a “you had to be there” kind of moment.

To refresh that, let’s have a peek at Genesis 1. What do we get to see?

  • God as Creator in v.1
    • “when God created the heavens and the earth”
  • God as the Spirit in v.2
    • “was hovering over the face of the deep”
  • God as the Word in v.3
    • “then God said, ‘Let there be light'”

This is all infused in the opening words of John’s gospel.

So… what is a word?

A word is… intention.

It is will.

It is fullness of the vision of what could and would be.

There’s no separation between God’s Word (“let there be light”) and the resulting outcome (“and there was light”). So the Word of God is the very creative power, agency and activity of the Creator.

In the beginning was the Logos. In the beginning, was the Speech. In the beginning was the Word, and that Word overflowed with creative energy, power, insight and vitality.

And this Word “was with with God.” Somehow, the Word possessed a kind of movement towards God, a living, active and moving relation. There is union here; no, more: communion.

“And the Word was God.”

Ok. Mind blown. So… what now?

This is all a setup. In one short verse, three phrases, a mysterious but compelling vision is articulated of the Word. And we’re left wanting more, well, I am!

The author of this Gospel knows how to start well. There’s a lot crammed into that first sentence. What is this Word, this life force, spiritual reality, deity? What is this idea, reason, truth? “Next week, in verse two of John’s gospel…”

Nah, let’s just keep going for a bit :-)

Movement

“All things came into being through him.”

He?

The Word just got personalised.

“All things came into being through him.”

Pause on that for a second. All things.

  • every woman and man
  • creatures of earth and air and sea
  • lights of the sky
  • wonders of deep space
  • mysteries of sub-atomic physics

All that we know and everything that is “came into being through him… and without him not one thing came into being.”

We’re talking high stakes, big claims. There is serious power being testified to right here. We’re talking about life-creating power.

So, yes: galaxies, suns, planets and all the cosmic realities… but perhaps even more marvelous: intellect, passion, creativity, vitality. The Word is the very life-force that makes us who we are: human people formed in the image and likeness of the Creator.

The Word is the animating power and life-creating source of God.

“Let there be light!”

And there was light.

So that’s the Word. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

 

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